Cornerback Rolle looking to jump on out route

March 02, 2009|By MIKE PRESTON

Ravens cornerback Samari Rolle sits at his home in Florida and waits to be cut. The signs are there. The Ravens recently asked him to take another pay cut. The team just signed cornerback Domonique Foxworth, and some key defensive veterans from a year ago are no longer on the roster.

Rolle, 32, is next, right?

"Honestly, I don't want to play in Baltimore anymore because I feel I'm not wanted," said Rolle, who has started for the Ravens the past four seasons. "During the past two years, the Ravens have wanted to replace me, and the only man in the building that supported me was Rex [Ryan, the former defensive coordinator].

"I have nothing against the organization, nothing against ownership. I just feel it's time for me to move on. Never have I challenged this organization, but I think it's in both our best interest."

This kind of talk seems out of character for Rolle, who has two years left on his contract worth about $4.2 million per season. He is no "I-Guy" like Terrell Owens, and he certainly isn't pouting because the Ravens signed Foxworth on Friday to a four-year contract worth $27.2 million.

That's not Rolle's style.

He is very team-oriented and a stand-up guy who has nothing but praise for Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome and owner Steve Bisciotti. Rolle is the offense's version of Derrick Mason, a tough, little guy everyone on the team respects.

But if the Ravens are going to cut him, Rolle wants it done as soon as possible. He has heard firsthand reports about the Ravens trying to trade him. He says that two days before Foxworth was signed, the Ravens asked him to take a pay cut for the second straight year. Rolle believes the Ravens brought in Fabian Washington to replace him last season, and this year it's Foxworth.

Rolle doesn't want to be a nickel back or come off the bench.

"I have too much respect for the organization to say much about that role," Rolle said. "If the organization had come to us about a trade, I think we could have found something, but nobody has talked to me. I think as a veteran player, if the Ravens aren't going to use me, then don't hold me back. I don't want to be released at the last moment when all the jobs are taken.

"If I was 23, 24 or 25 again, then the situation would be different. But I'm a veteran, and I have a family. We would like to know if we need to sell our house in Baltimore and where our kids are going to be going to school. My preference is to be released."

Rolle has valid points. When the Ravens needed a controlling force to handle recently released cornerback Chris McAlister, Rolle was there. Three years ago, when safety Ed Reed was gambling on interceptions and making Rolle look bad on big passing plays by not providing help over the top, Rolle took the brunt of the criticism and never knocked Reed.

Rolle could have easily taken the easy way out last season when he hurt his neck. He could have gone on injured reserve and still collected a paycheck. Instead, Rolle came back to start 10 of the last 11 games, including the first two in the playoffs.

Rolle doesn't want to be McAlister, who said he was told he was going to be part of the Ravens' future and then minutes later was cut by Newsome.

"Chris is my closest friend on the team," Rolle said. "As soon as that happened to him, he called me. He was so angry. What was the purpose in telling him that he was going to be involved in the offseason programs and the team, and then Ozzie cutting him five minutes later? ...

"I don't want to be in the same situation Chris was in last year. He was one of the top three cornerbacks in the league before the season started. He has a bad game against Indy, but nobody comes out and says a thing. Next thing you know, he's benched against Miami. Then we give up some passes against the Dolphins, and we throw Chris back on the field like it was his fault. I'm not interested in being in that position."

Rolle started 10 regular-season and two playoff games. He missed six regular-season games with neck and shoulder injuries, and the AFC championship game because of a groin injury. But Rolle points out the Ravens were 10-2 in games he started.

"If I have to come back, I will do everything they ask me to do," Rolle said. "I'll be the best player they want me to be, even on the scout team. What am I, the No. 4 or 5 corner now? I'll keep my head in the books and be ready to play. But again, my preference is to be released."

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